99 B-Line by the numbers: just how busy is the bus route?

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99 b-line public transit bus

There is no question that the 99 B-Line is the busiest and most congested public transit bus routes in Metro Vancouver.

It is the preeminent “school bus” to UBC and passes through Central Broadway, the second largest employment area in the region outside of the downtown Vancouver peninsula. Crowding at the westbound bus stop at the 99 B-Line’s terminus at Commercial-Broadway Station even led TransLink to develop a passenger boarding queuing system, for trial purposes only.

But how does the crowded bus ride translate into numbers?

When the service was first launched in 1996, it carried just 12,000 passengers per day and reached Lougheed Mall in Burnaby. In 2002, upon the completion of the SkyTrain Millennium Line, the route was rejigged with the terminus relocated to Commercial-Broadway Station.

Nearly two decades later, the 99 B-Line now outranks every bus route in every performance indicator, except for average capacity utilization and peak load factor.

It costs $0.55 to run the route per boarded passenger and recovers its own operating costs; it has the lowest operational cost amongst all bus routes. In stark contrast, it costs nearly $4.00 per passenger for some routes in the suburban municipalities, which means significant subsidies are required to sustain the service.

An average of 55,000 boardings are made daily during weekdays and more than 40 articulated buses are placed into service during the 13 kilometre route’s peak hours. However, no data is available on fare evasion, which is likely higher than other routes given that three door boarding is permitted on the buses.

Here are some numbers of the 99 B-Line’s performance over the last three years, provided by TransLink in its 2013 Bus Service Performance Review:

Annual boardings

  • 2011: 16,384,000
  • 2012: 16,879,000
  • 2013: 17,054,000
  • Rank (2013): 1 of 206

Annual cost to operate the route:

  • 2011: $8,578,000
  • 2012: $9,412,000
  • 2013: $9,435,000
  • Rank (2013): 1 of 217

Annual hours the bus is in service (revenue hour):

  • 2011: 87,500
  • 2012: 96,000
  • 2013: 96,300
  • Rank (2013): 1 of 217

Cost per boarded passenger:

  • 2011: $0.52
  • 2012: $0.56
  • 2013: $0.55
  • Rank (2013): 1 of 206

Average boardings per bus per revenue hour:

  • 2011: 187
  • 2012: 176
  • 2013: 177
  • Rank (2013): 1 of 206

Average daily boardings from Monday to Friday:

  • 2011: 53,750
  • 2012: 54,100
  • 2013: 55,000
  • Rank (2013): 1 of 204

Average daily boardings on Saturdays:

  • 2011: 29,700
  • 2012: 33,400
  • 2013: 33,350
  • Rank (2013): 1 of 172

Average daily boardings on Sundays and holidays:

  • 2011: 21,200
  • 2012: 23,900
  • 2013: 25,000
  • Rank (2013): 1 of 163

Average peak passenger load (bi-directional average) per bus:

  • 2011: 68
  • 2012: 64
  • 2013: 63
  • Rank (2013): 1 of 204

Peak load factor (vehicle occupancy), with a factor of 1.0 indicating a full bus:

  • 2011: n/a
  • 2012: 0.86
  • 2013: 0.84
  • Rank (2013): 2 of 204

Average capacity utilization (passenger turnover):

  • 2011: 179%
  • 2012: 167%
  • 2013: 168%
  • Rank (2013): 6 of 204

Feature Image: Dennis Tsang via Flickr

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Kenneth Chan Deputy Editor & Social Media Manager at Vancity Buzz. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, and anything else that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]vancitybuzz.com
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